Saturday 10 December 2016

Borussia Dortmund boss has unlikely reaction to being gutted by Europe's super-rich elite

Tom Rooney

Published 12/07/2016 | 17:45

Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel has been an unwilling spectator this summer as the spine of his side were sold off to the plutocrats of Europe but, instead of languishing amid the cold realities of the modern game, he’s resolved to forge ahead accordingly.

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Unlike, say, Ajax or Southampton, it would be remiss to classify Borussia Dortmund as a feeder club.

Champions League runners up in 2013 and the lone opposition to Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga hegemony, the Westfalenstadion side have never failed to compete at the elite level since the turn of the decade.

However, without the requisite financial clout, falling prey to the select few super clubs on the continent, is simply the nature of the beast.

Tuchel’s predecessor, Jurgen Klopp, saw Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski sold to Munich; unquestionably all the more stinging when considering their direct rivalry. In this respect, the dynamic of the German club game is quite unique.

When Klopp decided to step down at Dortmund, following a particularly trying campaign the season before last, Tuchel - widely considered one of the most innovative young coaches around- arrived from Mainz ’05.

His appointment proved galvanizing, and Dortmund finished second in the league, were beaten German Cup finalists and progressed to the quarter final of the Europa League.

Instead of having the luxury to harness the renascent momentum, Tuchel and his employers were fielding generous offers for a trio of their prized assets, and doing their utmost to keep the circling sharks at bay.

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Subsequently, captain Mats Hummels returned to Bayern Munich, Ilkay Gundogan became the first signing of the Pep Guardilola era at Manchester City and, most recently, Henrikh Mkhitaryan moved to Old Trafford.

Dortmund may have recouped more than €100m, but according to Tuchel, the windfall was of scant consolation.

"A lot has happened. It feels a bit like a fresh start. Three extremely important players have left us.

"We have lost three key men with the departure of Hummels, Gundogan and Mkhitaryan. They are three players of the highest level. We did everything within our powers to hold on to them. The offers were pushing our boundaries. We have to acknowledge that there are clubs higher in the food chain.

"The three players who have left have had an enormous influence on the team. They were examples for the others.

"I am no more disappointed about losing Mkhitaryan than about losing Mats and Ilkay. Of course, I was disappointed to see him go. I am a huge fan of Mkhitaryan. But I am looking forward to working with our new signings."

Furthermore, Neven Subotić, Hummel’s long time partner at the heart of their rear guard, informed the club last month that he wishes to leave.

Undaunted, Tuchel is looking to the cadre of Dortmund’s new young signings to imbue the club in the years to come.

"We have decided to go with talented youngsters. We are no longer thinking about what we had, but are focused on creating something new.

"We have to be creative and find solutions. It might be a risky path, but risks can get rewarded. All our new players are fully committed to BVB. We want to develop a team the fans can identify with.

"We want to challenge the big teams in the Champions League, fight for the Bundesliga title and win the DFB-Pokal."

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